29 Signs Of Lack Of Confidence And How To Change

Having confidence is a key part of living a happy life.

In fact, studies have proven that those with confidence make more money, have happier relationships, and are generally more successful than those who don't.

When you're confident in yourself, you believe in your abilities and maintain a sense of competence in everything you do.

Having low self-confidence undermines your faith in your ability to be successful and competent. 

Low self-confidence manifests itself in a steady feeling of inferiority that can prevent you from making progress and accomplishing your goals in life.

Interestingly, a lot of people don’t know exactly where they stand in terms of their confidence level.

They may feel confident in one area of their lives, but they lack it in another.

Many people have low confidence but aren’t aware enough to realize what is holding them back.

They don't know why they don't have the self-assurance that others seem to possess so easily.

What Causes a Lack of Confidence?

A lack of confidence can significantly impact a person's life, holding them back from reaching their full potential.

By exploring the root causes, we can help individuals take the necessary steps to overcome their self-doubt and embrace a more fulfilling life.

Let's examine some key factors that contribute to a lack of confidence:

Childhood Trauma

There can be many causes of having low confidence. First, if someone experienced trauma as a child, it can often have a lasting effect in adulthood.

The childhood years mold a person's life, so a dysfunctional childhood can trigger feelings of low confidence throughout life.

Not getting the love and attention that is necessary while growing up can lead to a child believing that they are not good enough.

Also, children growing up in households where there is a lot of fighting can cause the child to think they're responsible for the problems and end up condemning themselves.

Once this child grows up, he or she winds up being timid and unable to confidently face the world.

Disapproving Authority Figures

Growing up with disapproving authority figures can impair one's confidence. If you grow up constantly hearing that whatever you do isn't good enough, you are not likely to become an adult who has a positive self-image.

If you were often criticized for everything you did no matter how hard you tried, it is hard to gain confidence and become comfortable in your own skin later on in life.

Appearance Perceptions

Another potential cause of low confidence is one's perceived appearance.

People who are obese or find their appearance to be distasteful in any way often find it hard to be confident and they begin to have a poor self-image.

scared woman, lack of confidence

If someone tends to look down upon their appearance for any reason, they are likely to shy away from social gatherings and not want to face the world.

Experiencing Abuse

Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can make it extremely difficult to enjoy life, like the world, trust yourself, or trust other people, which are all factors that greatly impact self-esteem.

Trauma and abuse can make you feel empty. Further, you may have found unhealthy strategies to cope with the trauma you experienced and end up viewing yourself as being shameful as well.

Career Issues

Maybe you have a job that doesn't match your skill set or everyone you work with is more experienced than you are. Maybe you're new to the company and don't feel the ability to succeed.

Perhaps you feel threatened by your colleagues or you are nervous about losing your job. Unfit jobs are also a common cause of low confidence.

Past Failures and Rejections

It's not uncommon for people to internalize past failures or rejections, allowing these negative experiences to shape their self-image. This internalization can then manifest as self-doubt, causing individuals to hesitate when faced with new challenges.

Over time, a consistent pattern of such experiences may result in a deep-seated lack of confidence, preventing people from taking risks and pursuing opportunities.

Unrealistic Expectations

Many people set unrealistic goals or expect perfection from themselves. When we fall short of these lofty expectations, we may feel inadequate and question our abilities.

This cycle of setting impossibly high standards and then feeling discouraged when we don't meet them can erode our self-confidence over time.

Negative Self-Talk

When we constantly criticize ourselves and focus on our flaws, it becomes difficult to recognize our strengths and accomplishments.

This inner critic can become a significant obstacle in developing self-confidence, making it important to challenge and replace negative thoughts with more positive, constructive ones.

Social Comparison

In today's social media-driven world, it's easy to fall into the trap of constantly measuring ourselves against the seemingly perfect lives of others.

It's essential to remember that everyone has their struggles and that comparing ourselves to others only serves to undermine our own confidence and self-worth.

Lack of Support

If we're surrounded by people who are overly critical or unsupportive, it can be challenging to feel confident in our abilities.

Seeking out positive relationships and environments can help to bolster our self-esteem and provide the encouragement we need to pursue our goals with confidence.

Here are some of the most common signs that you might be lacking in self-confidence.

29 Signs You Have A Lack Of Confidence

1. You are socially withdrawn.

If you find that you often look for excuses to get out of social events or avoid making plans with people outside of anything that is absolutely necessary, it might be because you are not confident.

stressed man, lack of confidence

In these cases, you probably would rather stay home than have to interact with other people in a social setting. You just don't feel secure in your social skills and don't want to embarrass yourself.

2. You have anxiety and emotional turmoil.

When you feel anxious about something, it is usually because you are unsure of what the outcome will be.

However, when you have confidence in your abilities and in yourself, you will have fewer reasons to experience anxiety or emotional turmoil.

3. You are unable to accept compliments.

When someone compliments you, do you say, “Thank you!” proudly because you believe whatever they just said?

If you have confidence, you are able to accept compliments because you believe that they are true.

4. You worry often about what other people think.

When you are confident, you don't really care what other people think about you because you love yourself and you know that is all that matters.

You know that you aren't living to make other people happy, but rather you are living to make yourself happy. You see yourself as capable and able to succeed.

5. You neglect yourself.

You don't take the time to take care of yourself when you have low self-confidence. You may think, “What's the point?”

You stop spending the time to look your best and provide the self-care you need to be your best.

6. You're unwilling to take on challenges.

Without confidence, you may believe you'll fail at your endeavors, so you don't put yourself out there to even try.

It seems that anything new isn't worth the effort since you're already convinced yourself that you will fail. The possibility of failure is so daunting that you don't want to risk it.

7. You don't trust your own judgment.

You second-guess yourself a lot when you don't have confidence because you doubt your ability to make sound decisions.

You may find yourself constantly asking other people what they think about an issue so you can feel more secure with your judgment.

You have the sense that everyone else knows better than you do.

8. You expect very little out of life.

You may not think you are going to be successful in life or get much out of it. You accept mediocrity because that's what you've always had.

You've trained yourself to believe that you are missing that “something” that successful people are born with. Life feels unfair because you've been denied the ability to succeed.

9. You rely on your phone in social situations.

You find yourself checking your phone often during social situations where you have few or no friends present. You want to appear to be socially connected, however, so you make yourself look occupied.

Your phone serves as a buffer, preventing you from really engaging with others but protecting you from any embarrassing slip-ups.

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10. You always back down during disagreements.

Without confidence, you will find that you back down in conversations that could potentially lead to conflict.

You negotiate your views and would rather avoid experiencing a disagreement than express your true feelings.

You have a hard time speaking up at work to defend a position or share a different point of view.

11. You take constructive criticism personally.

You start to tear up in the bathroom after your supervisor gives you constructive criticism about your performance at work.

Rather than taking criticism in an objective manner, you react emotionally or become defensive and angry. You don't recognize that criticism can help you grow and become more successful.

12. You don't speak up in a group conversation.

You may second-guess whatever you want to say, wondering if it will sound dumb. You are unable to dive into a conversation without thinking about it beforehand.

Everyone else in the group seems to know so much more than you and can speak so effortlessly. You wonder if you have anything useful to contribute.

13. You feel a need to explain yourself.

You feel like you have to explain your actions on a regular basis.

Everyone makes mistakes, but people with self-confidence issues often feel like they need to give reasons for their decisions, even if they are successful people.

14. You blame others.

If you complain a lot and place blame on other people, you may be suffering from low self-confidence.

Blaming other people removes the responsibility from the complainer and puts it on someone else. This strategy puts you in the victim mode in which it appears you have no control over your life circumstances.

15. You make excuses.

When criticized, a person with low self-confidence will make excuses for their actions or choices so they don't appear inferior.

Accepting personal responsibility feels like a weakness, even though it is a sign of inner strength and self-awareness.

Confident people stop and listen to criticism with an open mind before deciding whether or not it is helpful. They can put criticism into the proper context without believing it defines them.

16. You use defensive body language.

When you display defensive body language, like crossing your arms or giving a stern facial expression, you may be exhibiting low self-confidence by shutting people out.

Physically closing yourself off shows that you are anxious and uncomfortable in the environment.

17. You need approval.

People with low self-confidence need to feel validated by having the approval of others.

Not getting that approval is frustrating and can further lower one's level of self-confidence.

The person suffering from confidence issues can't accept that not everyone will approve of their actions or agree with their decisions.

18. You're a pessimist.

When someone has low self-esteem, they're often pessimistic and critical of everything.

They take these negative feelings out on people who are close to them and have a hard time being positive about anything.

This pessimism stems from a feeling of not having control over one's future and life success.

19. You fear the future.

Many people with low self-confidence worry about the future and its possibilities.

They can't enjoy the present moment because they're nervous about the bad things that could happen.

They believe they are bound to screw something up and are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

20. You're ashamed.

People who don't have self-confidence can feel shame when they don't achieve perfection.

They want to please others by being perfect, and they are driven by shame and fear to ensure others view them as nothing less than the best.

This causes extreme stress and anxiety because they will inevitably fall short of their perfection goals.

21. You apologize a lot.

People with low confidence have an inaccurate view of their worth and may genuinely feel like anything that goes wrong is their fault.

This leads them to apologize for any occurrence that could have inconvenienced someone else, whether it was their fault or not.

22. You buy things you don't like.

When shopping for clothes, people with low self-confidence shop with the opinions of others in mind.

This is because they crave the approval of other people rather than trying to please themselves.

23. You keep the peace.

Even if someone with low confidence doesn't like another person, he or she will never confront them or do something about addressing an issue.

This person would rather keep the peace and fake being friends if they have to. The fear of rejection and a lack of confidence in forming new friendships keeps this person from speaking up.

24. You tell pointless lies.

The truth might not seem interesting enough so people with low self-confidence tell little white lies.

You don't want to share a truth that might make you look weak or “lesser than” in the eyes of others. Telling a small lie seems like a good cover for your inconvenient truth.

25. You avoid eye contact.

The act of looking someone else directly in the eye makes you very uncomfortable.

Without confidence, it is difficult to make eye contact because the other person might pick up on your perceived flaws.

Looking around or down at your feet is a sign that you aren't comfortable or confident in the situation.

26. You have self-deprecating humor.

People who have been picked on learn to beat the bully to the punch. They will make a joke at their own expense before anyone else has the opportunity to do so.

If you have low self-confidence about your appearance or abilities, you may find yourself pointing out your perceived flaws to diffuse your insecurities about them.

27. You lack boundaries.

When someone is dealing with low confidence, they may have a hard time saying no and let other people use them to get some kind of attention or positive feedback.

This lack of boundaries attracts the wrong kind of people and reduces your self-esteem as other consistently take advantage of you.

28. You dislike change.

Without self-confidence, you may prefer to stay in unsatisfying, yet familiar, situations.

This could mean staying in a bad relationship or a job that isn't a good fit because you fear change.

Not having the confidence to make a decision about a positive change keeps you in trapped in less-than-satisfying environments.

29. You can't enjoy your own success.

Some people suffering from confidence issues drive themselves to overachievement and then refuse to acknowledge their own hard work to achieve success.

They view themselves as lucky rather than smart, and because they don't have confidence in their own judgment, they anticipate disapproval.

How to Overcome Low Confidence

If you are lacking self-confidence, you do have the ability to improve it.

If you believe you are incompetent, not smart, unattractive, or any other limiting and negative quality, you can turn these beliefs around.

You can start feeling self-assured and capable of following your dreams despite your internal negative voice.

While there might not be one single thing you can do to boost your confidence, there are steps you can take that will improve your overall self-image.

Practice personal grooming.

Take the time every morning to properly groom yourself and look presentable for the day. It is surprising how much of a difference it can make when you feel like you look your best. You can also dress nicely so your clothes look presentable and appropriate for whatever you are doing that day.

Change your thinking patterns.

It is also important to think positive. Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones by learning to become aware of your self-talk and the things that you’re doing. Instead of telling yourself that you can't do something, allow yourself to look forward to the challenge.

Analyze your thoughts.

When you’re trying to surpass your negative self-image and replace it with confidence, you have to take note of your negative thoughts and analyze why you have them.

Think about the things that you perceive to be your limitations and consider whether or not they’re real limitations or just ones that you have reinforced mentally.

Be prepared.

You won't be able to have confidence if you don’t think you will succeed at something. Beat that fear by always preparing yourself as much as much as you can for whatever is coming your way.

Part of doing this includes increasing your competence. Study or practice your craft whenever you can so you are always up to date on your profession.

Smile Often

It is important to smile if you want to have more confidence. Smiling will make you instantly feel better and will help you be nicer to other people. This small action can have a big chain reaction.

Act “as if.”

You may not feel confident, but you can act confidently in situations that aren't completely comfortable.

Take a deep breath, and put on your thespian hat by acting “as if” you were cool, composed, and totally self-assured.

Look people in the eye when you talk. Express your views without hesitation. Put yourself out there even if you feel a bit anxious.

The more you act confident, the more confident you will feel over time.

Embrace failure.

When you're lacking confidence, you view failure as something you must avoid at all costs. That means you don't try anything that isn't 100% guaranteed to be a success.

Failure is an essential part of success. You must fail sometimes in order to learn, figure out a better way, and then ultimately succeed.

Change your perception of failure as a friend rather than an enemy.

Final Thoughts

If you find that you show signs of low confidence, it's time to do something about.

Review the tips above to boost your confidence, taking small and manageable actions that can bolster your inner strength.

Be patient and kind to yourself as you work on becoming a more confident person. If you are persistent with your efforts, you'll notice significant improvements in your self-confidence.